August has always been one of my least favorite months in the garden, but this year the abundant spring rains resulted in abundant fragrance, blooms and foliage.
We have a relatively short growing season here in New England and having a healthy, colorful border is so nice. Of course, at this time of the season, there are always a few gaps to fill with late blooming annuals or perennials.
Gardens are an ever-changing scene of beauty and plantings that looked good last year may be oversized and in need of dividing or transplanting. However, this task can be tackled in September when the weather is cooler. Then you can venture into your borders, transplant a few specimens so that each plant has its own space with good air circulation and can perform at its best.
Divide plants that have been in the ground for four or more years, as you may have noticed that these plants do not bloom as profusely as in previous years. On that note, there are always fellow gardeners, who will be grateful to receive some of the splits.
Continue deadheading; by doing so, your garden will always appear fresh and perky.
After the hot and dry days we have been experiencing lately, watering is of paramount importance. In this regard, make sure that your garden receives at least one inch of water per week and that your containers receive a daily dose of water, early in the morning and in the early evening.
Garden hoses in the borders are a much more efficient method of watering; with this method, the water goes directly to the roots where it is needed. By using soaker pipes, you won’t lose 40% of the moisture to evaporation, and you’ll also prevent water from falling on plant foliage, which can lead to disease and mold.
When pruning tired annuals, new blooms will appear within weeks.
On closer inspection, some of you may notice that the borders look a bit tired and need a bright boost from new specimens to improve things. And these specimens can be found right now as many garden centers are offering end of season deals.
When Coreopsis and Spirea perennials have finished blooming, cut off the dead flower with the garden shears and quickly enjoy the look of bright, vibrant blooms.
It is of utmost importance to stop feeding the roses now in August. The reason for this is that roses need at least nine weeks to gently relax into a slow, healthy dormancy before the first frost.
In my September tips, I’ll give you suggestions on partial pruning of roses in early fall, followed by a second pruning the following April. This method of double pruning produces the healthiest and most prolific flowering.
Every two weeks, give your containers a little extra composted manure when watering, which will keep these miniature gardens bright and cheerful well into early fall. Add the manure over the natural brown mulch, as both the manure and the mulch help retain moisture and retard weeds. In the morning, if you don’t have time to water the containers before going to work or running errands, simply empty your ice trays into the containers, it will provide slow release watering until you can add more when you get home.
With the high heat and humidity that we have experienced recently, powdery mildew can appear on certain species such as summer phlox, bee balm and hydrangeas. If you notice this problem, I suggest you spray my remedy of a gallon of water in a spray bottle, adding a tablespoon of baking soda and a dash of vegetable oil. Always spray in the morning before the combined temperature and humidity readings equal 160.
Keep adding more composted manure to the vegetables each month, as vegetables – especially annual vegetables – are big eaters. To prevent animals from munching on your precious bounty, place an old basketball or a piece of carpet your dog had been lying on among the vegetables; these scents help ward off furry marauders.
Place your peony orders now so they can be delivered for planting in September. September is the month to transplant, divide or plant new peonies. After the first hard frost in November, cut all existing peonies back to six inches from the ground and add some natural brown mulch around them to protect the pink-eyed roots, which are close to the soil surface. When planting or transplanting peonies, make sure that the “pink eyes” of the roots are barely covered with soil. If peonies are planted deeper, chances are you will not have flowers next year.
Start compiling your list of spring bulbs now so that the best choice of bulbs is available to you.
Feel free to email me with any gardening questions at [email protected]
I look forward to seeing you in your garden in September – in the meantime, enjoy the outdoors and remember to stretch, hydrate, and take time to smell the bloom.
About the Author: Maureen Haseley-Jones is a member of a family of renowned horticultural artisans, whose landscape heritage dates back to the 17th century. She is one of the founders, with her son Ian, of, The English Lady Landscape and Home Company. Maureen and Ian are landscapers and gardening experts, who believe that everyone deserves to live in an eco-friendly environment and enjoy the pleasure it brings. Maureen learned her design skills from her mother and grandmother, and honed her skills in horticulture and construction while working in the family nursery and landscaping business in the UK. His formal training in horticulture was undertaken at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in Surrey.